United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FLOWERS CONTI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Providence Care Center, LLC and Beaver Valley Associates, LLC
(“Defendants”) filed a motion (ECF No. 14) to
partially dismiss the First Amended Civil Action Complaint
(“Amended Complaint”) filed by Plaintiff Shawanna
Wright (“Wright”) in this employment
discrimination case. Wright filed a response in opposition to
the motion, Defendants filed a reply, and the motion is ripe
and Procedural Background
is an African-American female with various disabilities,
including asthma oral allergy syndrome. She was employed by
Defendants for thirteen years as a Licensed Practical Nurse
(“LPN”). Wright alleges that she was subjected to
discriminatory and retaliatory treatment because of her race,
disability or requests for reasonable accommodations.
(Amended Complaint, ECF No. 12).
September 15, 2015, shortly after RN Supervisor Bobbye Lutz
(“Lutz”) assigned her to a less-desirable unit,
Wright filed her first charge of discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
(ECF No. 15-1). On June 29, 2016, the EEOC issued a Notice of
Dismissal and right to sue letter to Wright. (ECF No. 15-2).
Wright did not file a lawsuit within ninety days of receiving
the EEOC letter.
the first EEOC charge, Wright alleges that she was subjected
to continued hostility, including an accusation of
intimidating a co-worker into taking a shift on a different
floor, and two pretextual disciplines. Wright did not plead
any facts regarding the circumstances leading to these
disciplines. She avers that Lutz told her that unit manager
Lisa Brewer (“Brewer”) recommended them, and
Brewer signed a statement denying it. (Amended Complaint
March through July 11, 2016, Wright was on medical leave. She
returned to work without any restrictions. Wright alleges
that the discriminatory and retaliatory treatment continued.
For example, Lutz did not believe that Wright was able to
work and should go on Social Security disability; in May
2016, on a day that Wright returned to work, management
provided a bushel of bananas to the nurses, even though they
knew Wright was allergic to them; Lutz went out of her way to
ignore Wright in the hallways, but greeted white,
non-disabled co-workers; Lutz accused Wright of bullying a
co-worker into taking a shift on a different floor; Lutz
falsely accused Wright of violating the policy for making
medication errors, while a white, non-disabled co-worker made
multiple medication errors but was not punished; and
management lost Wright's requests for days off and
required her to work on days she requested to be off.
(Amended Complaint ¶ 38).
was terminated by Lutz in September 2016, purportedly for
getting into an altercation with another employee. Wright
alleges that during the incident, the other employee was
yelling and being insubordinate while she remained calm.
(Amended Complaint ¶ 39).
filed a second charge on October 14, 2016, with the EEOC and
the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
(“PHRC”). The charge alleges that Wright was
terminated based on her race, national original or health and
in retaliation for her earlier complaints about
discrimination. (ECF No. 15-3). She avers that she properly
exhausted her administrative remedies and filed this lawsuit
within ninety days of receiving a right to sue letter from
the EEOC after her second charge. The Amended Complaint has
six counts, most of which contain multiple distinct legal
theories: (1) violations of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., for
actual/perceived/record of disability discrimination,
retaliation and hostile work environment; (2) parallel
disability theories under the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act (“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 951 et
seq.; (3) violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., for
interference and retaliation; (4) violation of § 1981,
42 U.S.C. § 1981, for racial discrimination, retaliation
and hostile work environment; (5) violation of Title VII, 42
U.S.C. § 2000a et seq., for racial discrimination,
retaliation and hostile work environment; and (6) parallel
racial discrimination theories under the PHRA. Defendants
seek dismissal of part of counts one and two and all of
counts four, five and six.
Amended Complaint contains numerous allegations of conduct
occurring in July 2015, which formed the basis for
Wright's first EEOC charge. See, e.g., Amended
Complaint ¶¶ 26-31. The Amended Complaint has a
footnote which explains that these facts are pled “as
an unlawful employment action (adverse action) under Section
1981 and PHRA only, ” and are relevant to the Title VII
and ADA claims to show evidence of pretext, ongoing
antagonism and a pattern of discrimination/retaliation.
(Amended Complaint at 6). In her response to the pending
motion to dismiss, Wright represents that she does not assert
claims under Title VII or the PHRA based on conduct prior to
December 15, 2015 (300 days prior to her second EEOC charge).
(ECF No. 20 at 11-12).
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently reiterated
the standards and procedures that a district court must apply
when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss:
A complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” But a detailed pleading is not generally
required. The Rules demand “only ‘a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the
defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.' ” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id.; see also Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp.,
609 F.3d 239, 262 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010). Although the
plausibility standard “does not impose a probability
requirement, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, it
does require a pleading to show “more than a sheer
possibility that a NGL has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint that pleads
facts “merely consistent with a defendant's
liability...stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The
plausibility determination is “a context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
Under the pleading regime established by Twombly and
Iqbal, a court reviewing the sufficiency of a
complaint must take three steps. First, it must “tak[e]
note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a
claim.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675. Second, it
should identify allegations that, “because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. at 679; see also Burtch v.
Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011)
(“Mere restatements of the elements of a claim are not
entitled to the assumption of truth.” (citation and
editorial marks omitted)). Finally, “[w]hen there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume
their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give
rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679.
Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786-87
(3d Cir. 2016). The court explained that a plaintiff need not
specify whether she intends to proceed under a
“mixed-motive” or a “pretext” theory.
Id. at 788. A complaint “need not establish a
prima facie case in order to survive a motion to
dismiss.” Id. Instead, all that is required to
meet the post-Twombly pleading standard is
“enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary
element[s].” Id. at 789.
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if
the complainant's claims are based upon these
documents.” Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223,
230 (3d Cir. 2010). In ruling on the pending motion, the
court will consider the EEOC charges attached to
Defendants' brief. See Zanaglio v. J.J. Kennedy,
Inc., No. CV 17-874, 2017 WL 3492696, at *2 (W.D. Pa.
Aug. 15, 2017) (considering PHRC filings a defendant provided
as exhibits to its motion to dismiss).
assert two arguments for dismissal: (1) only those claims
fairly encompassed within the scope of the second EEOC charge
are timely; and (2) Wright failed to allege sufficient facts
to support a plausible claim of race discrimination.
Defendants contend that if the court dismisses the §
1981 and Title VII race discrimination claims, it should
dismiss or decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Wright's parallel race discrimination claims under the
Claims Based on Conduct Prior to December 19, 2015
argue that the ADA, Title VII, PHRA and § 1981 claims
based on discrete actions occurring more than 300 days prior
to the second EEOC charge are time barred. Wright affirms
that she is not asserting ADA, Title VII or PHRA
claims based on conduct prior to December 19,
2015. (See ECF No. 20 at 11-12) (“The adverse
action in this case occurred in September of 2016, when
Plaintiff was terminated. Plaintiff agrees with Defendants
that discrete ...